Companies founded on technology licensed from Johns Hopkins University have raised $1 billion since 2010. And 90 percent of those companies are no longer in Maryland.
Christy Wyskiel, who leads Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, the university’s commercialization arm, hopes to reverse that trend with a new partnership with Village Capital and the Abell Foundation.
“Imagine the ecosystem if all that institutional capital had stayed here,” Wyskiel said.
Since taking over as head of the university’s technology commercialization efforts in 2014, Wyskiel’s mission has been to prevent companies that start at Hopkins from leaving.
The new partnership with Village Capital and Baltimore-based Abell Foundation will push the needle forward. Through the pact, Village Capital will help identify promising startups, expand their networks and help them raise money — all the things that entrepreneurs are searching for when they leave Maryland.
The partnership is part of the firm’s VilCap Communities program, which focuses on cities with emerging startup communities that have historically been overlooked by mainstream venture capital investors. Baltimore was one of 16 cities selected for the program.
“We didn’t choose the communities we thought needed the most help, but the ones we thought were the best for entrepreneurs,” said Jared Marquette, who manages the VilCap Communities program.
Honolulu, Nashville, New Orleans, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are among the other cities selected for the program.
Marquette got his first taste of Baltimore’s startup scene as an organizer for AOL co-founder Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest venture tour, which kicked off in Baltimore last September. After joining Village Capital, he made a point to come back to help Baltimore.
Case’s visit, an entrepreneurship push by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s Sagamore Ventures, and acquisitions like Millennial Media are building momentum and attracting national attention for Baltimore.
In February, NextGen Venture Partners announced it was establishing a Baltimore office of startup investors.
With Village Capital, Wyskiel sees an opportunity to further strengthen the startup scene in Baltimore, by connecting entrepreneurs to a national network that can help them find investors and top-notch workers, and strengthen their business models.
“What we’re trying to build will take many years and in fact if we do it right will be many decades of building,” Wyskiel said. “We’re in the early innings of what we’re trying to do.”